“Simple” measures could stop 2 million baby deaths

May 9, 2006

By Kate Kelland

LONDON (Reuters) – Two million babies each year die on the
day they are born in developing countries due to a lack of
simple measures such as providing tetanus immunization and
skilled midwives, the Save the Children charity said on

In a report on “The State of the World’s Mothers 2006,” the
international charity said that of more than 10 million
children under the age of five who die each year in the
developing world, around one in five die within the first 24
hours of life.

“The first hours, days and weeks of a baby’s life are
critical, yet only a tiny minority of babies in poor countries
receive proper heath care during this highly vulnerable
period,” Save the Children chief executive Jasmine Whitbread
said in a statement.

“The most simple health measures … can mean the
difference between life and death.”

The report said most newborn deaths were the result of
preventable or treatable causes such as infections, birth
complications or low birth weight.

“Simple, affordable techniques, such as immunizing women
against tetanus and providing a skilled attendant at birth,
could reduce these deaths by 70 percent,” it said.

It said newborn deaths were so common in many parts of the
developing world that parents put off naming their babies until
they are between one week and three months old.

Save the Children also published a 2006 update of its
“Mothers’ Index” of the best and worst countries in the world
to be a mother and child.

For the seventh year in a row, Scandinavian countries
dominated the top tier of the rankings with Sweden taking first
place. The United States and Britain were in joint tenth place,
while Niger was ranked as the worst country.

Save the Children described the large number of newborn
deaths as “one of the world’s most neglected health problems”
and urged governments around the world to increase political
and financial aid to help prevent further deaths.

It called for more investment to give young women in poor
countries better access to education, nutrition and
contraceptives, and for improved used of tetanus immunizations,
skilled birth attendants and education about warmth and
breastfeeding for infants.

Source: reuters

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